Recently I helped with directing traffic for the Iron Man competition held in Boulder County. It got me thinking about safety issues when dealing with special events and emergency situations while I was trying to endure standing in the 90-degree-plus temperatures.
We were tasked to shut down part of Highway 119, which is a divided road. Both north- and southbound traffic were on the same side, which, as you can imagine, caused slowdowns along with some left turns being blocked. This caused a few drivers to verbally, and some not so verbally, let us know just how irritated they were about the closures.
What I want to convey from this experience is to have patience. First, law enforcement didn’t wake up that morning and decide to shut down roads just to reroute the driving public for no reason.
We were tasked to block the road for the event, and since we had a job to do, we accomplished the task at hand. So when you’re driving through these areas please give us a “brake.”
When you see cones, patrol cars, police or signs, they are there for one reason: to keep drivers from entering an area for everyone’s safety.
This means you are not permitted to go that way. We try to make sure there are alternate ways to get where you are going. It may take you a little longer to get there, but you can get there. So remember, patience. Our number-one priority is to make sure everyone goes home after an event.
Trying to convince the officer to let you through is not going to get you anywhere, and will only back up traffic even more. The officer cannot take the time to talk to drivers when directing traffic. It endangers the officer as well as the driver stopping to ask questions.
Law enforcement, fire equipment and ambulances do not carry signs with them. This means the cones or an individual in the area directing traffic is all we have sometimes. They are just the same as a sign. If you are motioned to go a different direction, or cones are blocking the road, this means you are not allowed to go through that area. Driving through, over or around cones is just wrong, and will get you in trouble with the law.
When a driver takes it upon himself to go around cones, the consequences can be devastating. Again, think safety and patience. Even though you don’t see a reason for that area to be closed, know that we have deemed it as a safety area.
If cones are blocking your ability to turn, and yet you see traffic from the other direction going that way, sometimes it may not be safe for traffic in your direction to make a turn on that road. If it’s a left turn, it may also back up traffic even more in your lane, because the car turning left may have to wait for an opening from traffic going in the opposite direction.
This goes the same for crashes, construction or any type of police activity. Have patience for safety’s sake, and know it’s nothing personal, but usually it outweighs whatever you’re trying to get to.